They found that glia, a collection of non-neuronal cells that had been considered as passive support cells, are in fact vital for the development of nerve cells in the brain.
“The results lead us to review the often neuro-centric view of brain development to now appreciate the contributions to nonneuronal cells such as glia,” said Vilaiwan Fernandes, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of New York in the United States.
“In fact, our study found that fundamental questions in brain development regarding nerve cell synchronization, identity, and coordination can be understood only when the glial contribution is explained,” said Fernandes, lead author of the study published in the journal Science.
The brain is made up of two broad cell types, nerve cells or neurons and glia, which are nerve cells that make up more than half the brain’s volume.
Neurobiologists have tended to focus on the former because they are the cells that form networks that process information.
However, given the preponderance of glia in brain cell makeup, the researchers hypothesized that they could play a key role in brain development.
To explore this, they examined the visual system of the fruit fly.
The species serves as a powerful model organism for this line of study because of its visual system, like that of humans, supports repeated mini-circuits that detect and process light throughout the field of view.
This dynamic is of particular interest to scientists because, as the brain develops, it must coordinate the rise of neurons in the retina with other neurons in distant regions of the brain.
Researchers discovered that coordination of nerve cell development is achieved through a population of glia, which transmits signals from the retina to the brain to make brain cells become nerve cells.happy wheels
Apr 10, 2017 0